Home / Travel Guides - Seattle / See Between The Raindrops

See Between the RaindropsPicture it: Urbane Frasier Crane and his equally urbane brother Niles meet at Café Nervosa to sip caffeinated drinks and discuss opera, ballet and the finer points of a good sherry. Interns and residents juggle medical training, grueling work schedules and messy personal lives at Seattle Grace Hospital. Recently widowed Sam Baldwin moves into a houseboat on the west shore of Lake Union. While the coffee shop and the hospital are fictional, the houseboat from the romantic comedy “Sleepless in Seattle” does exist, and “Frasier's” overall ambience—and all those scenes on “Grey's Anatomy” where rain is a backdrop—leave no doubt as to exactly what city you're in.

A vivid sense of place is one of the more charming aspects of this Northwestern metropolis, and geography plays a large part in the natural beauty on display. Puget Sound, a deepwater inlet punctuating the northwest Washington coast, not only provides scenic vistas; its indentations create several harbors that contributed to the area's early growth. The Olympic Peninsula's snowcapped mountains frame the western horizon. And to the southeast lies towering, ice-clad Mount Rainier; on clear days it resembles an ethereal image of a massive mountain. These are just three reasons why Seattle's reputation as a city of spectacular views is fully justified.

Yes, it can be gloomy (locals will tell you that summer finally arrives on July 4). Yes, it can be rainy (the kind of light but persistent rain that requires a rain jacket but not an umbrella). But the reward for putting up with this is sweet indeed: the azure blue skies, warm sun and low humidity that characterize the glorious days of midsummer and early fall.

And Seattle's urban green spaces are delightful. Imagine, for instance, happening on Kinnear Park, a wee stretch of green hugging the southwest slope of Queen Anne Hill. A path winds beneath tall, stately trees. Benches invite you to stop and sit for a while. And there are pretty views of the Elliott Bay waterfront. It's a perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature for a few minutes.

“Frasier's” title screen shows a stylized Seattle skyline with an instantly identifiable city landmark. Opened in 1962—just in time for the Century 21 Exposition, more commonly known as the Seattle World's Fair—the Space Needle's futuristic profile remains unmistakable, although five Seattle skyscrapers to date have surpassed its 605-foot height. A trip up to the observation deck for the breathtaking 360-degree panorama is the No. 1 thing on many a tourist's “don't miss” list, so by all means do it.

After you've explored Pike Place Market, that is. There's no better place to be early in the morning, wandering among the produce, seafood, craft and flower vendors as they set up shop. Locally grown raspberries and wood ear mushrooms, sourdough cinnamon rolls, whole Dungeness crab, artisan cheeses, Greek yogurt made from locally sourced ingredients: it's foodie heaven. Noise, crowds and the salmon-flinging antics of the fishmongers aside, the soul of the city is right here. Not to mention the amazing places to eat.

The market also is the location of the oldest operating Starbucks (1912 Pike Place). It's hard to believe that the global brand of everything from organic beans to specialty brewing equipment had a humble beginning not so long ago—1971 to be exact—as a local coffee roaster. But then again, who can remember life before cellphones and apps? Amazon, Costco and Microsoft are just a few of the corporate powerhouses headquartered in the Seattle area.

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Seattle, WA

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

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Travel Information

City Population

608,660

Elevation

350 ft.

Sales Tax

State and county sales taxes total 10.1 percent in Seattle. A lodging tax of 10.1 to 15.6 percent is levied along with a 17.8 percent rental car tax.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(206) 625-5011

Hospitals

Harborview Medical Center, (206) 744-3000; Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, (206) 364-0500; Swedish Medical Center-First Hill, (206) 386-6000; University of Washington Medical Center, (206) 598-3300; Virginia Mason Medical Center, (206) 223-6600.

Visitor Information

701 Pike St. Seattle, WA 98101. Phone:(206)461-5800 or (866)732-2695

Air Travel

Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (206) 903-6260 or (800) 654-3080.

Rail Service

Amtrak passenger trains, (800) 872-7245, arrive and depart the King Street Station at 303 S. Jackson St. Amtrak also serves Edmonds, Everett, Tacoma and Tukwila.

Buses

The Greyhound Lines Inc. station is at 503 S. Royal Brougham Way; phone (206) 624-0618 or (800) 231-2222.

Taxis

Taxis must be contacted by phone or hired while stopped at cab stands. Major companies are Farwest Taxi, (206) 622-1717; Orange Cab, (206) 522-8800; and Yellow Cab, (206) 622-6500.

Public Transportation

Transportation by bus, trolley, street car, light-rail, monorail and trains is available in Seattle.

Boats

Two companies provide water transportation within the greater Seattle area and to British Columbia.

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